BUSINESSES have called for a better mix of retail shops in Darwen once the three-day market has been demolished.

A survey asked 66 store and restaurant owners to have their say on how to improve the area's economy.

The Darwen Town Centre Partnership Board was told there was a desire for more banks to re-open after a number have closed in recent years.

The market, which was closed last year, will be demolished in September providing that planning consent has been granted for the future use of the area, Blackburn with Darwen Council has said.

The vision for the site is to have businesses move into the units underneath Railway Road which surround the market building and then use the rest of the site as an open space for markets and other events.

Board member Samantha Taylor said: “We will be having a meeting next week to discuss further what the possible used of the space will be.

“But what we will make sure we do is maintain the beauty of Darwen and show off what the town has to offer.

“The business survey combined with the consultation we carried out initially will feed into the plan and we are also planning to survey residents to see what would make them shop in Darwen.”

Of the businesses which were questioned, 90 per cent said they planned to remain in the town.

A high amount also said they had frequent visits from customers and they all served at least 50 people a day.

Cllr Brian Taylor, leader of Darwen Town Council, said: “I think it’s very important that the plan for the site is based on evidence and this survey gives us evidence of shopper’s intentions and interests and their opinion of Darwen.

“We can work on a model based on that. It shows we are not trying to guess what people want, we are trying to find out what customers would like to see.”

A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “Options for the area currently occupied by Darwen three-day market are being developed with the partnership board.

“These options aim to enhance the area and create flexible space that can respond to the varying needs of a busy town centre environment.”